Welcome to Wry&Ginger’s Lessons on How to Suck It Up in Business.
This is a series that discusses some common topics about doing business on Etsy. And when I say ‘discuss” I mean “Dear Sweet Sassy I love the sound of my own voice!”
Part 5 – Putting it out there.
It is essential that you promote your business.
It is essential that you learn to promote yourself and your product properly.
It is essential that you not flail about the virtual and real worlds, hurling business cards, tweets, freebies and adboxes about willynilly, like Santa Claus during that short but little discussed period back in ’73 when things got a bit rough and he needed a ‘vacation’ at that ‘spa’ where they ‘dried him out.’ Hang on, that last bit was supposed to be implied.
It is doubly essential that you come to terms with the idea that simply placing your business card or ad out there in no way constitutes proper promotion, let alone the possibility of a sale.
It is triply essential that you learn to couple ideas that you or others have for promoting yourself with the not-so-sexy but really important skill called critical thinking.
From my point of view, on the Etsy forums, the critical thinking chip is often missing or turned off in the brains of some who come up with ideas for promoting themselves. Thinking critically about an idea doesn’t mean that you just THINK. You must CRITIQUE. And by Gum, I do not mean what typically goes on in the critique section of the forums here at Etsy. You don’t just hand an idea over to someone to have them fondle it politely and say “that’s great!”
That is not critique.
Ponder your idea in a manner that seeks to find the problems with it. Play devil’s advocate constantly. Doing this does not in any way constitute an attack on positive thinking, it simply means that you are capable of coming up with an idea and then saying “realistically now, what’s wrong with this.” Nothing is perfect, so find the holes, and be prepared to tweak your idea or even abandon it as unfeasible. It is a rare idea that comes along in perfect condition, ready to roll. If you are unable to accept critique or deal with the idea that your proposal may need to change then you are what is known as Rush Limbaugh and should go take a seat in the back and zip it while the rest of us get on with some learning and exchanging of ideas here.
So let’s look at few of the ideas and methods we see floating around here.
Advertising using services such as Project Wonderful (PW):
This one costs money.
What? You say there are often free spots on people blogs through PW. Yes there are. Ever wondered why they are free? So little traffic that the time and effort it took you to place the ad won’t be paid back. IF there was any goodly amount of traffic, you would be paying something for that spot.
Now I know there are those among you who will say “Wry, you cynical cock, any ad floating around out there on the internet is exposure! So even if only a few people see it, it’s better than nothing. “
But this is the discussion on EFFECTIVE promotion. The discussion on “better than nothing promotion” is, I dunno, somewhere else. Maybe you want to go find it.
PW can be very useful – I have enjoyed it more than once. But you need to put some time and thought into it. You can start by using their search to find sites with decent daily traffic (at least in the thousands, people) against what you are willing to spend – and possibly against any types of site you would or would not like to advertise on. Then you have to monitor what is going on there. Don’t just leave the ads. If a site is not getting you any clicks, dump it. But before you do – check around the site a bit and see what audience it is aimed at. Store that information. The sites you get the most clicks from, check them out, too. Some of my most successful ads (traffic wise) have been aimed at groups I would never have thought would be interested in my product.
And while traffic is not a guarantee of sales, I can guarantee you that with no traffic, you will not make sales.
Twitter et al:
Some social networking sites have rules against commercial promotion. Adhere to them. All social networking sites have rules against being a constant, never-ending self-promoting, spamful dink. Don’t’ be that person. SOCIAL networking… be a little social or stay way.
The infamous Business Card Dump tactic:
I’m talking about leaving your cards behind you, like an unasked for trail of dust from PigPen. We constantly hear talk of hiding them in books at libraries and bookstores, putting them in bills you pay (and may say of all the tactics this is the one that causes me to do a weird combination of snort laughing while retching), leaving them in shops and cafes without asking, etc. Let’s not even discuss this one in terms of litter, being inconsiderate to the people who have to pick them up, the courtesy of asking if you could use someone else’s paid-for premises for advertising etc.
No – let’s talk about this in terms of effective promotion. What sort of return do you imagine you are going to get from a tactic like this? How many bills do you pay by mail each month? How many people are likely to find that card in a book? And of those people, how many will actually use that card? That card YOU PAID FOR.
To those who will sit and argue about this most terribly pointless of all promotion techniques, I invite you to go sit with Mr Limbaugh. Because of all the techniques I’ve seen suggested, this is the one that I am not going to engage in a back and forth about. There are so many things wrong with it on the levels of courtesy, waste, and plain dumbness that I’m walking away.
Next, we have the weird promotional tactic that we see from time to time in the forums here…the Poor Me Promotion – you know “buy my stuff because I have bills to pay, my cat is sick, my sales are down, I am sad!”
For those of you who engage in this: Knock it off. You are dragging us all down on your Titantic of Despair and doing noting but making yourself look unprofessional and crass. Ugh.
These are just some examples of types of promtion we talk about here at Etsy. There are many others and I encourage you, when thinking of them, to put on the critical hat. It’s not a pretty hat, but it’s useful, Like a toque. What? Toque? You know, toque! Oh for th…are there ANY CANADIANS around at all right now? Pfft. It’s a knitted cap you wear in the winter. What now? It rhymes with spook, OK? OK.
A final thing to consider: when you go forth into the world of promotion, think outside your world. Do not make the mistake of only promoting yourself in the world of craft. There are giant worlds of other peoples out there who like things and would possibly buy things if they knew about things. Find them. Show them. Sell to them.
That is all.
NO wait! I forgot to mention the promotions section on the forums here! Oh hold on, right…this was the discussion on EFFECTIVE promotion.